Moving up to the Intermediate Ladies grade and facing tough competition wasn’t going to hold back Year 11 Nayland College student Holly Ward as she competed in three national events earlier this year.
Her first event was the 2020 Speed Skating Nationals in Timaru in January where Holly entered a wide variety of races. Her distances ranged from the 200m road race where she came third, to the 42km road racing marathon in which she came fourth, and everything in between. In her indoor racing events, Holly came second in the 800m race and third in both the 1500m individual event and the 3km relay. Overall Holly finished the competition with five bronze medals and one silver to add to her collection.
Only a few days later Holly also competed in the Tour of Timaru, a world famous 16 stage speed skating event which is the ultimate test of speed and endurance. Skaters from all over New Zealand and overseas raced over three days doing everything from sprints to hill climbs and endurance races with their eyes on the prize of being named ‘Champion of the Tour of Timaru.’ Coming second in the 3000m event, third in both the flying 500m and the 10km event as well as fantastic results in all her other races meant Holly was named 4th overall, a fantastic achievement for the 15 year old.
Holly’s passion for speed skating began back in 2012 when she visited the Tahunanui roller rink for her birthday and saw a girl going around the rink ‘very fast’ in ‘these cool skates.’ At only eight years old, Holly asked the girl’s father what the skates were and he gave her a flyer for speed skating lessons. Two weeks later, she was signed up and within a year she was skating competitively.
When asked what Holly enjoys the most about speed skating she replied, “I enjoy how fun and fast the sport is and also making new friendships around New Zealand and other countries. Speed skating gives me opportunities to travel New Zealand and other countries which a big bonus.”
As well as her trip to Timaru in January, Holly also traveled to the North Island last month competing in the New Zealand Banked Track Championships in Hamilton where she brought home two silvers and a bronze. This brings her 2020 medal count to nine so far, a number which is sure to grow now that she is set to once again compete at the World Skate Oceania Speed Championships for the fourth time. The event alternates between being held in New Zealand and Australia and this year will be held at the South Canterbury Rink in Caroline Bay, Timaru.
To prepare for the Oceanias, Holly said, “I am doing up two hours a day with one rest day a week and that also includes me cycling from Richmond to college return each day. Training is different every day and it can range from doing 200m to 21km and we also incorporate road cycling with the training.”
As well as the challenge of juggling her rigorous training regime with her school work and her other sports, Holly’s other challenge is finding a proper training venue for her skating. She says “We currently train [outside] on a road used in an industrial estate which is not safe.”
However those challenges are not going to slow Holly down any time soon. With less than a month until the World Skate Oceania Speed Championships, she is focused on her training and aiming to speed her way to some new medals to add to her growing collection.
Holly’s parting words to anyone who might be interested in speed skating are “definitely give it a go as my point of view [is] it’s an amazingly fun, fast and crazy sport and you never know, you might just enjoy it.”
By Sarah Luton